PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS 101: Chapter 2. How to Price Yourself


“Just set your price and live your life”- JAY Z

Pricing your photographic services is like black magic. Honestly, there is no answer. You just gotta have faith in yourself, and set your price, and see how the market responds.

So let me give you some practical advice.

“Value” is a man-made concept

Primo, know that there is no such thing as “objective” value.

For example, to me, common sense would say that a $1,000 white T shirt should not exist. But it does. And it sells.

To me, common sense says that a painting should not cost $100 million. Ultimately, a painting is just molecules of paint splashed against a canvas. If you break down the cost of materials of paint and the canvas, a painting should not be that expensive.

But this is the thing… you cannot create value purely through the material costs of whatever you make. Rather, you need to assert your VALUE.

Why do people spend money on things, products, or experiences?

Let me continue.

The value of something is how much someone is willing to pay for it. – Publilius Syrus (written 2,000 years ago, in Ancient Rome)

Whenever you see people spending a lot of money on something, never fall them “irrational.” That is loser talk.

Rather, try to understand… why is someone willing to spend that much money on that … thing?

Some ideas:

  1. People buy something or a service because it makes them feel more confident, powerful, or joyful.
  2. Status symbol: humans will always want more status and power in society. They think by buying “X” it will make other human beings value them higher.
  3. Respect: People invest in things to gain “respect” or “trust” from others. For example, I would probably trust a lawyer who drives a Maserati instead of a Honda Civic. Why? I have a mental shortcut… the guy with the more expensive car is probably more “successful” and therefore smart.

Price is FRAMING

Price is also from COMPARISON.

In psychology, they call this “framing”. To learn more, read THINKING FAST, THINKING SLOW.

Let’s say for example you see a camera you want to buy.

  • Camera A: $7,000 USD
  • Camera B: $1,300 USD

Of course, Camera B seems like a better “value” or “deal”. Why? We compare, or FRAME the choice A and B.

Let’s give another example,

  • Camera A:$1,300 USD
  • Camera B: $600 USD

Now, camera A is gonna seem like a bad deal compared to the $400 camera.

This is a “framing effect.”

Car salesmen know this tactic. They will always show you the MOST EXPENSIVE car first, then backtrack, and show you a cheaper option. Why? Most people don’t buy the most expensive option. But when you buy the cheaper option, you feel like you got a better “deal”, and therefore you feel better about yourself.

How to price your workshops or services

Therefore, when it comes to pricing yourself, offer a high-tier price, and a lower-tier price.

Or, offer three tiers:

  • Option A:Very expensive $$$
  • Option B: Medium price $$
  • Option C:Value price $

Most humans will go for Option B— the moderate price.

Early bird discounting

To me, it is always a smart idea to offer an early bird discount. Why? By having a limited TIME CRUNCH, you incentivize people to book your workshop or services EARLY.

Let me give you an example, I always buy things on SALE… especially if I know that the same is for a “limited time.”

So when you price your workshop, have a normal price, and an early bird discounted price. Offer the early bird discount if your student signs up a month before your workshop date.

How much should you discount? Some practical suggestions:

  • $10,000 Normal, $4995 Early Bird
  • $5000 Normal, $2995 Early Bird
  • $2500 Normal, $1995 Early Bird
  • $500 Normal, $295 Early Bird

To be honest, I don’t think you should ever charge less than $500 for a workshop. The danger of pricing yourself too low… people equate cheap prices with cheap quality.

This is why I buy $200 NIKE shoes, I think they’re better quality than cheaper shoes, even though my pair of NIKE FLYKNIT are already falling apart.

This is why I buy the more expensive Tylenol, instead of the cheaper generic. Why? If I have a headache, I will always go for the more expensive option… thinking it will “work better”. And often, the placebo effect does in fact work.

I go for Pepto Bismol, not the generic pink shit.

I will buy the expensive Leica lens, not the cheaper Zeiss … even though the Zeiss is actually probably a sharper and “better” lens.


So let’s say you announce your workshop, what do you fear?

Worst case scenario: nobody signs up. That’s cool. You won’t die.

There is no success or failure. Only feedback.

If you priced your workshop for “X” dollars, and nobody signed up, just take that as feedback. Perhaps you need to announce the workshop earlier. Perhaps you need to market it more. Perhaps you need to adjust the maximum student cap. Perhaps you need to price less…or in fact…perhaps you need to charge more.

Ignore modern economic theory. It’s all bunk. There is no Adam Smith invisible hand. Economics isn’t even a real science. Economics is like poetry… fun ideas, but often dangerous when applied to real life (I believe in the Nassim Taleb, economics skeptic group).

To be honest, you can safely ignore all the advice in this essay. I don’t necessarily know the truth, but I know what has worked for me.

Also, this advice probably won’t be useful to you, and might not help you. So please, always be skeptical. Never trust anyone fully, certainly not me or any other “experts” online.